The Way to Work: Don’t Pollute When You Commute!
Green Day 24th September 2004
Green Day takes place on the last Friday of September each year. On this day the Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust asks schools, businesses and individuals to think about how they get to work, try an alternative to the car, wear something green and make a donation to the Trust. Why do we do this? As well as raising valuable funds to support local environmental projects, we are trying to encourage people to think about the impact of their daily commute.
In recent years, the rapid increase in car ownership has resulted in a situation where traffic is one of the main environmental problems facing Jersey today. While congestion is the obvious visible part of the problem, traffic is also the cause of a multitude of other issues, which affect the quality of life in Jersey. It is responsible for:
The Alternatives to the Car
So, if we are to entice people out of the car, what are the alternatives? Walking, cycling, bus, car-sharing, taxis and tele-working are the most often cited and each have their advantages and limitations, some of which are listed below.
Source: adapted from Paterson C. The Way to Work: A Guide to Green Commuter Plans. Statistics are from the 2001 Jersey Census Report.
A more realistic alternative to giving up the car completely is to move towards a situation of travel blending i.e. selectively using the whole range of modes of transport available. For example, “Kiss ‘n’ Ride”, i.e. getting your partner, family member or friend to give you a lift to a bus stop, might be a possibility – obviously, the kiss is optional!
However, sometimes there is just no practical option other than the car and the fact is that in Jersey well over half the economically active population travel to work by private car. So if you are going to use the car, how about thinking about more environmentally friendly fuels, either gas or electric powered?
Electric cars emit zero harmful gases or pollutants. This means they give no local pollution, which is hugely different from all other cars. They are also whisper quiet and so reduce noise pollution as well. Electric cars are now becoming increasingly affordable (a brand new electric car can be bought for less than £7,500) and thanks to the success of the SMART car, smaller cars are proving to be a viable option without too much of a dent in the ego.
Electric cars are also less wasteful of natural resources, consuming on average only one quarter as much energy as a combustion engine car. So what’s the incentive? As well as saving the planet and running costs of less than 1p per mile perhaps Jersey could follow the lead of many London councils who now offer discounts of between 50% to 100% on residential parking zones for zero emission cars, or how about specially marked bays in public car parks, with reduced parking for zero emission cars? How smug would you feel to drive into a space specially allocated for low emission vehicles in the Esplanade car park at five to nine? And with the potential of a leasing option available in the UK on electric cars, they are the perfect option as a company pool car.
Furthermore, Citroen have recently brought out an electric version of the Berlingo van. With a top speed of 60 mph and range of 60 miles without charge, this is a viable option for many businesses in Jersey. From flat, the batteries can be charged overnight using a normal domestic power supply and plug - fast charge for ten minutes gives 15 miles of operation.
A challenge for all businesses
Perhaps as a result of trying one of these other modes of transport for the day on Green Day, your company might have the incentive to develop a Green Commuter Plan?
There are demonstrable long term benefits to business from developing a transport policy that encourages alternatives to the car, ranging from actual cost savings to increased productivity from a happier, healthier workforce. It has been proven that an employer can hope to achieve some, or all, of the following from the introduction of a Green Commuter Plan:
We, the Trustees of the Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust, would like to set your business a challenge, to examine the way in which employees travel to work and then develop a Green Commuter Plan. Wouldn’t it be great to have 30 Jersey organisations named as having taken on and implemented this challenge by Green Day 2005? Information about how to set about this task is available on our website www.gerardleclairetrust.org.
Sarah Le Claire, Chairman, Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust
© 2003 Copyright Gerard Le Claire Environmental Trust